Alarm turned off. Gaze blearily out the window. The Washington monument appears shrouded in early morning humidity.
I was not awake, after all.
Words pass through my mind – humidity, hot, backpack, humidity. Do I need to buy a new deodorant? Yes. Not quite acclimatized to the transition from Stockholm to Washington D.C.
6:00am. Stumbling out of the bedroom I learn that 8 people retweeted something about Donald Trump and a news anchor. Some habitual buzz gets going. What sort of nonsense is he up to now? Read. Read. Jeez. There will be plenty of chatter around the coffee machine at the office today.
Time to get on with the routine. Banana milkshake, to-do lists, rowing machine at the gym on the third floor, fried egg and peanut butter sandwiches, iron shirt. If there were a Guide to metropolitan, city-jumping life it would probably say something like – ‘A cumbersome yet practical morning routine can do much to make up for the loss of familiarity when moving from one place to the other. That is, of course, if you want to shake the feelings of unfamiliarity in the first place. Since most people spend a considerable amount of time mulling over how they can get away from stuff, it is in fact a little strange that you would. But that is beside the point’.
The walk to the bus is about 500 meters. After 2 meters it is time to adjust the backpack so it does not stay in one place for too long. After 10 meters one usually considers holding the backpack like a briefcase instead. Given the extra exertion it is usually best to abandon this alternative rather quickly. After 20 meters there is a brief and somewhat subdued moment of panic. After 30 meters it is time to put your hands to the straps and give your shoulders a breather. Finally, after 50 meters and a drenched lower back all ambitions are gone and you think quietly to yourself – ‘Whoever showed up dry to work in 100° F (36° C) and 80% humidity anyway?’.
The A/C at the office provides a welcome sense of relief. And the short elevator ride gives just enough time to shake out the worst droplets from what is left of your shirt. But you are inside. You are safe. And a whole day of interesting work awaits. Coffee with the other research analysts, a roundtable discussion about the prospects of banking union in the EU, and plenty of bond prospectuses to read. Another entry in that Guide for metropolitans would have been – ‘There is no such thing as a universal concept of “lunch”. Whoever thought so has clearly never spent too much time outside of France. The normal thing to do in the U.S. is to have a sandwich by your computer, trying to master the art of looking simultaneously at an Excel spreadsheet and the aforementioned sandwich’.
Returning home around dinner time, planes passing overhead through the cinematic sky, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be here. I am one of those young people who have benefitted from globalization significantly, and who Bensam so aptly describes in his thoughtful post below. With the generous support from people at the Stockholm School of Economics, Georgetown University and financial support from the Dr. Tech. Marcus Wallenberg foundation, I will get to spend 6 months of my life in Washington D.C. A global melting pot of politics and business 4097 miles from my hometown of Malmö, Sweden. My work is at the Peterson Institute of International Economics in the fields of financial regulation and international law. Hence, throughout my 6 months in D.C., I get to work with people in the absolute edge of their fields, on pressing policy issues that will shape the world of tomorrow. I will also get to study full time at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Presently in Sweden to renew my visa, I look forward to returning to D.C. to start my new courses in e.g. business and investment negotiation and meet new colleagues and friends. And many more mornings of staring blearily at the Washington monument.